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Friday, August 30, 2002

Is "Sincere, Well-meaning Liberal" an Oxymoron?-You don't usually see the word curmudgeon used to describe females, especially when they're as pretty as Ann Coulter, but I think she's heading in that direction here. After praising Sean Hannity's new book, she takes a couple of grump pills and resumes:
Perplexingly, he writes: "The vast majority of liberals are good, sincere, well-meaning people." This cheery bonhomie is beginning to sound like the mantra about the "vast majority" of Muslims being peaceful and has produced the same good results. I think it's time to drop the infernal nonsense about liberals being well-intentioned but misguided. In the spirit of Hannityesque magnanimity, I will say that there is only one thing wrong with liberals: They're no good.
Let's take apart Hannity's statement and see if she's right. Are most liberals well-meaning? Yes, if defined as striving to create a better country and world. There are a few vindictive sorts that will make policies that are designed to hurt certain classes of people without helping others, but I think that is a minority. Their big government plans may hurt some people, but they do so in order to create a greater good. They might not mind if the next Bill Gate has a smaller bank account and has to settle for a smaller mansion and one less vacation home, but only in the context of making a happier country from the programs that tax money will generate. The antithesis of that would be that they mean ill to society at large. There might be some misanthropic people who want everyone else to suffer, but they can't be said to make up a significant minority of liberals. Are most liberals sincere? Yes. There are a few that will be insincere, saying things they don't really believe, but I don't see that describing a majority of liberals. You may see some level of insincerity, such as politicians parking their kids in private schools then rail against vouchers that would allow the less-affluent the same options, but I don't see the typical liberal being significantly more insincere than the rest of the population. Are most liberals good? If you want to trot out Mark 10:18 and say that only God is good, you'll have a point. However, in the sence that I think Hannity meant good, of honorable, law-abiding citizens, then I would agree with him. Yes, you have your bad apples, but they again are a minority. You could nit-pick on whether there are enough evil or insincere or not-well-meaning liberals to deny a "vast majority" but I think the majority of liberals are well-meaning, are no less sincere then the rest of us and are generally good citizens. That doesn't mean I agree with them, but I think Hannity comes closer to a proper biblical attitude of loving one's enemies than Coulter does. I don't think Hannity's suffering from "battered Republican syndrome" as the headline suggests, as if decades of being held captive by a liberal media gives him a political version of the Stockholm Syndrome. There is a tendency for people in Washington and other elite circles to get to know and like people in the "enemy" camp and thus tend to go easy on the opposition. However, the Courterian alternative of demonizing your foe can lead to a bitter spirit that is corrosive to the soul. { Thanks to Kevin Pierpont for the link}

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